《machine》 2018
©Kaoru Hirano  Photo: Ken Kato

Memory and History

The “Hiraku Project” is conceived as a series of exhibitions introducing contemporary artworks by Pola Art Foundation Grant recipients. The exhibitions are to be held at the Atrium Gallery, recently established to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Pola Museum of Art. “Hiraku” translates as ‘open,’ in the sense of ‘responsive to new possibilities.’ We are pleased to present Kaoru Hirano’s Momentary Architecture as the fifth exhibition in our HIRAKU Project.

Photo by LWL-Industriemuseum / Martin Holtappels


Kaoru Hirano
1975 Born in Nagasaki, Japan
2003 Ph.D., Hiroshima City University
2006 Art Documents Support Program by SHISEIDO
2007 shiseido art egg Award
2008 Fellowship, Asian Cultural Council (Japan – United States Arts Program at ISCP, N.Y., USA)
2009 Grant, Japanese Government Overseas Study Program for Artists (Berlin, Germany)
2010 Grant for Overseas Study, POLA ART FOUNDATION (Berlin, Germany)
Lives in Hiroshima

Hirano’s installation crafted from three umbrellas related to three cities (Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and Berlin) is closely connected to her personal history. She unravels the umbrella cloth into individual threads and reconfigures them in a completely different form. This technique appears in her previous reconstructions of clothes, such as a wedding dress, a newborn baby’s ceremonial clothes, or undergarments.
That the three umbrellas were actually used in Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and Berlin, three cities with tragic histories, triggers memory and carries deep meaning. Hirano’s underlying purpose, though, is more than to simply scrutinize the sad history of these particular cities. Rather, using the familiar motif of umbrellas, she demonstrates how our lives are interwoven with the events of the world around us, whether historically significant or not.
Machine, Hirano’s new work created for this exhibition, diverges significantly from her style up until now. An industrial sewing machine, it’s heavy presence totally different from the time consuming work of meticulously disassembling threads of cloth, illustrates the dramatic transformation in the connection between people and fabric in the 20th century and visualizes the sometimes even violent speed and trajectory of that transformation.

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©Kaoru Hirano  Photo: Ken Kato
©Kaoru Hirano  Photo: Ken Kato
©Kaoru Hirano  Photo: Ken Kato

List of Works

1. machine
2018 material:industrial sewing machine, sewing thread, electric cylinder, control panel
2. untitled –rain Hiroshima–
2018 material:umbrella
3. untitled –rain Nagasaki–
2018 material:umbrella


KAORU HIRANO momentary architecture

Organized by Pola Art Foundation
Venue: Atrium Gallery, Pola Museum of Art
In Cooperation with SCAI THE BATHHOUSE